Hallacas (Venezuela)

Hallaca is a Venezuelan dish. The Hallaca filling is more elaborate than the standard Tamale filling. Ingredients vary from region to region and family to family, but may include a combination of beef, pork, bacon, onion, pepper, red pepper, green onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and vineger.

Ingredients Of Hallacas

Ingredients For The Filling

  • 4 1/2 lbs beef
  • 4 1/2 lbs pork meat
  • 2 1/2 lbs bacon
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 6 sweet peppers, diced
  • 2 medium red peppers, diced
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon powdered garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 bottle red cooking wine
  • 12 lbs plantain leaves, smoked
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Ingredients For The Dough

1 cup pork fat rendering
1 cup anatto (achiote)
3 packages (2 lbs each) precooked white corn flour
15 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 1/2 cups butter (9 bars), at room temperature
Salt to taste

Ingredients To Assembly Hallacas

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 medium onions, chopped in rings
3 red peppers, cut in thin strips
4 cups parsley, in sprigs
1 1/2 cups black raisins
2 cups chickpeas, cooked
1/2 cup capers
2 cups seedless olives, stuffed with red pepper
2 packages bacon, chopped in small chunks (2 inches)
1 roll cotton yarn

Directions Of Hallacas

1. Make guiso: Cut the beef, pork and bacon into small pieces. Place everything in a large container or saucepan, covered with a lid. Add the onion, pepper, green pepper, green onion and garlic. Season with oregano, salt, cumin, garlic powder, ground pepper, cooking wine and vegetable oil. Mix well and let macerate overnight, preferably in the refrigerator. From time to time, stir again with a wooden spoon and cover the pot so that the flavor is more concentrated.
2. Preparation and cleaning of the leaves: Wash the leaves with water; clean them well with a damp cloth and dry them with a dry cloth. Divide the leaves into two types: (the largest) where you have to place the hallaca dough and stuffing and the second sheet (the smallest) which covers, encloses and protects the tamal during cooking. You should remove the central stem from the leaves, as this prevents them from bending easily. Be careful not to break the leaf while removing the stem, using scissors.
3. Make the dough: heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the pork fat and annatto seeds. Let the pork fat dissolve and the annatto to make its color. Remove from the stove and let cool. In a large container, add the corn flour and gradually add to the chicken broth and softened butter. Knead vigorously and add the pork fat with annatto and salt to taste. The dough should be soft and yellow in color. Divide the dough into 50 equal balls.
4. Assembly: Moisten a large leaf with a little vegetable oil. Place a ball of dough in the middle of a sheet. Roll out the dough in a circular motion with your hands until it is 1/4 inch thick. Add a tablespoon and a half of guiso with its juice in the center of the dough. On the filling, place 2 onion rings, 1 pepper strip, a sprig of parsley, 3 raisins, 2 chickpeas, 2 capers, 2 olives and a small piece of bacon. Continue to fold the sheet. Take the widest edges and fix them up. Create a fold until it is completely sealed. Fold the other two ends inward and wrap them with the smaller sheet. Tie the hallacas with the previously cut wire (about 1.5 meters in length). Cross them three times in each direction (horizontal and vertical) and close with a knot or bow.
5. In a large saucepan, boil 8 gallons of water over high heat. Place the hallacas, cover and cook over low heat for an hour and a half. Repeat the process with the other hallacas or you can use two jars at the same time.
6. Remove and drain them, preferably in an upright position. Let cool and refrigerate until you are ready to eat. Since they require a lot of work, the custom is to prepare large quantities of hallacas. These tamales can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
7. When you need to heat the hallacas again, boil the water in a deep saucepan over high heat. Add the hallacas you want to heat (make sure the water covers them). Lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove. Drain the hallacas, cut the wire, remove the leaf and enjoy!

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